Seriously, what do you think they are, nerds or something? They’ve got to be around their people. They’ve got to be around their comrades, wearing matching colors and drinking brewskies and hugging each other way too long whenever their team scores.
This is the exact reason the sports bar was created. Oklahoma City and Norman are absolutely littered with them, and with March Madness, the Final Four and the NBA playoffs rapidly approaching, they are about to be filled with screaming sports-aholics.
House of brews
Formerly Coach’s, The Brewhouse, 108 W. Main in Norman, is a relatively new companion piece to that beloved establishment. It has made a name for itself as the go-to place for unparalleled sports-worship in Norman.
And Ryan Robinson, one of the owners, couldn’t be more thankful.
“It’s a time when the fans of college and NBA basketball come out, and it gets us primed, especially now, with Thunder playoff season coming up. March Madness is the most exciting time of the NCAA season. Whether OU is participating in it or not, people are going to get riled up,” Robinson said.
Not only does The Brewhouse brew its own beer, but during games, it offers specials on pints and growlers, with S&B’s Burger Joint available next door.
But what really sets its apart from Norman’s other sports bars is its viewing experience.
“We’ve got two large projector screens, the biggest of which is 85 square feet,” Robinson said. “Spread around the bar, we have about 15 other screens. You can’t find a spot where you can’t get a great view of the game.”
If you watch a game at The Brewhouse, however, he advised you come prepared.
“It can get pretty rowdy in here,” Robinson said. “It gets busy enough that people know we won’t have enough chairs, so they bring lawn chairs from home. It makes for an exciting atmosphere — sometimes even more exciting than the game!”
For love of the game
Hidden in the corner of an unassuming strip mall at 12325 N. May is the independently owned and operated neighborhood sports bar Lumpy’s. With plenty of space and plenty of TVs, owner Chris Cochrane said March Madness and the playoff season are among the most important times of the year.
“The place gets packed, and it takes on an energy all its own,” he said. “We’re not a big chain by any means. We’re primarily filled with neighborhood people. We’ve got 20 TVs here, and it’s a very electrifying place to support your home team.”
You don’t have to be an indie to understand the importance of the rabid sports fan base. Situated at 3109 W. Memorial, the scantily clad waitresses of Twin Peaks appreciate — nay, need — your business just as much, according to general manager Nick McNab.
“Events like March Madness are some of the most important things that drive our sales,” he said. “We’ve worked really hard to become a sports destination in Oklahoma City.”
With more than 70 televisions spread throughout the place, the crowd at Twin Peaks has been known to get pretty loud and proud.
“Being wide open the way it is, everyone’s kind of sitting shoulder-toshoulder with everybody else. It’s like everybody is at the same party together,” McNab said. “It gets pretty rowdy for any sporting event that has to do with Oklahoma or any big event, like the Final Four or the Super Bowl. And we like it that way!”
Using the safety
The OKC Thunder has given Oklahoma a big-time pro sports team of which we can be proud.
Recognizing this, Jeff Anshutz, general manager of The 51st Street Speakeasy, 1114 N.W. 51st, created the novel approach of a safe place where the hipster crowd can enjoy the game without the sports-bar atmosphere — an anti-sports bar, if you will.
“I want to be careful with the word I choose here. We’re less ‘aggressive’ than a sports bar,” Anshutz said. “We’ve never been known, nor have we ever advertised ourselves, as a sports bar because that’s not what we’re known for. We’re more known for our beer selection and live music and whiskey and Scotch.”
That changed with the advent of the Thunder. The Speakeasy invested in a 10-by-10 high-definition projection screen.
“The Thunder just seems to pull everyone together, and it becomes an event,” said Anshutz.
During Thunder games, the Speakeasy serves “Thundershots” and specials on all Oklahoma beers in an effort to keep things local.
But, for Anshutz, to see his regulars get so excited for the hometown heroes reassures him that, in sports, there’s always room for anyone.
“Thunder games bring a lot of people together, especially during the playoffs,” he said. “We’re happy to provide the place for that togetherness.”